Election 2020: Delaware Dems tighten senate hold; presidential race tight; more updates
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden headline the ballot, but Delaware voters are also choosing their next governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. House Representative and several local officials.
Here is the latest on what's happening in the First State on Election Day.
With many states still counting votes, Joe Biden early Wednesday morning said he believes he is “on track” to beat President Donald Trump and win the 2020 election.
“We knew, because of the unprecedented early vote, it was going to take a while,” Biden said in front of supporters in Wilmington. “It ain’t over until every vote is counted."
The president had not addressed supporters as of 1 a.m. but posted the following Tweet shortly after Biden's speech:
"We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!
— Meredith Newman
It appears as if the 2020 Presidential Election is going to come down to – shocker – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Joe Biden is getting closer to clinching Arizona, which would mean he needs to win two of the above states to clinch victory.
Georgia remains a wildcard, too, as highly-populated counties in and around Atlanta are still waiting for results.
It does not appear as if a result is going to be known anytime soon.
— Jeff Neiburg
Delaware Democrats picked up two seats in the state legislature Tuesday night and ushered in a wave of progressive and diverse candidates, with some claiming historic titles such as the first transgender state senator in the nation.
The Democratic victories mean the Republican party will no longer hold any Senate seats in New Castle County. Democrats Kyle Evans Gay and Spiros Mantzavinos narrowly defeated Sen. Cathy Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke) and Sen. Anthony Delcollo (R-Elsmere), respectively.
Sen. David Lawson (R-Marydel), meanwhile, held onto his seat, beating Democratic challenger Jaci Hugg. So did three New Castle County state representatives — Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek Valley), Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek South) and Kevin Hensley (R - Townsend) — whose seats Democrats targeted.
— Jeanne Kuang, Natalia Alamdari
With a win Tuesday night, Lisa Blunt Rochester clinched her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Delaware woman said she wants to continue her work toward addressing health care disparities for people of color and dealing with America's ongoing battle with addiction.
The Associated Press called the race shortly after polls closed in Delaware. Early voting results showed Blunt Rochester with a hefty lead.
"I think our number one priority in Congress and in the country has to be getting this pandemic under control," Rochester said on Election Day as she was moving among polling places around the state to talk with voters.
— Marina Affo
This year's Senate race could have ramifications in Delaware politics, possibly for years to come.
The success of Chris Coons' opponent, Trumpian Lauren Witzke, to seize the Republican nomination, could mark a permanent rightward shift for the state Republican party, one Delaware hasn't seen in years.
Witzke's unabashedly anti-immigration rhetoric and her incendiary social media presence may set the tone in future races, especially in Republican strongholds in Sussex and Kent counties.
— Isabel Hughes
Delaware will continue its approach to fighting coronavirus after voters on Tuesday reelected Gov. John Carney, the state's architect for the pandemic response.
Republicans had hoped voters would use their ballots to express frustration with the state's shutdown and Carney's cautious approach.
— Sarah Gamard
Driving on I-95, the Biden campaign's Election Night spectacle could be seen from afar, as bright blue lights lit up the Westin hotel, with the Biden-Harris logo serving as an almost Bat-signal.
Large screens showed MSNBC announcing the election returns. Red, white and blue cars were positioned in the parking lot of the Chase Center, though it's unclear who occupied them. The festivities were not open to the public, likely due to coronavirus concerns, though a couple dozen people waited outside of Secret Service security. One man was seen holding balloons with Joe Biden's face on them.
Some crucial battleground states remain too early to call, and as polls close across the country, it's unclear if we'll have a winner tonight while votes in multiple states continue to be tallied.
— Meredith Newman, Jeff Neiburg
The Associated Press has called the District 1 state senator seat for Sarah McBride.
McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, becomes the first transgender elected official in Delaware, and the first transgender state senator in the nation.
MORE: McBride makes history
— Jeff Neiburg, Jeanne Kuang, Natalia Alamdari
After big fears of voter intimidation, an official for the Delaware Department of Justice said police were called in for three incidences at polling locations today.
One was on Limestone Road where they could not locate the complainant or anything worth sorting.
Police were also called to a polling place in Townsend because a "disorderly subject" would not remove his hat bearing a candidate's name. The person eventually cast their ballot and left without arrest. The DOJ official did not say whose name was on the hat.
Police were dispatched to George Read Middle School near New Castle because an unnamed candidate was having a confrontation with his opponent's volunteer for "blocking his campaign sign." State Police cleared the incident and nobody was detained. The official did not name the candidate.
— Xerxes Wilson
Joe Biden has won Delaware, according to the Associated Press.
The AP has also called races for Delaware Gov. John Carney, U.S. Senator Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.
Update, 8:20 p.m.
Delaware's Department of Elections is only reporting absentee results so far.
Biden is holding a 124,545 to 30,491 advantage over Trump.
Carney is holding a 123,470 to 29,220 advantage over Julianne Murray.
Coons is holding a 123,796 to 28,333 advantage over Lauren Witzke.
Blunt Rochester is holding a 119,466 to 32,644 advantage over Lee Murphy.
— Jeff Neiburg
AP has called a few states with earlier poll closing times. As expected, President Trump won Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.
Biden, meanwhile, won Vermont and Virginia.
None of these results are surprising.
Polls in Delaware close shortly, and results both here and around the country should continue to stream in.
— Jeff Neiburg
News Journal reporters Sarah Gamard and Xerxes Wilson talked on Facebook Live about a busy election day in Delaware. Watch below.
The line of voters at North Star Elementary School, just south of Hockessin, had stretched onto the school's athletic fields as the sun started to fade into the night around 5 p.m.
“It goes fast,” said one man as he walked to his car.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said one voter as he carried a chair to the end of the line. “Maybe on TV but never here.”
Said another woman, “This is insane.”
“It’s going to get dark soon. I wonder if there’s lights?” she said as she walked across the field.
People were bundled up in blankets to wait in line.
Later, the line at Maple Lane Elementary in Claymont started to get longer as people made it to the polls after work.
Nearby, the patriotic lyrics of a country song rang out from a passing motorcycle.
Outside, Senate candidate Sarah McBride greeted voters at one of her many polling place stops of the day.
Even facing two-hour waits, she said, voters had been welcoming and excited.
“There’s clearly a lot of of excitement, this morning in particular,” McBride said.
McBride is one of many Democratic newcomers on Tuesday’s ticket, hoping to push the party toward more progressive policies.
“One of the great things about the candidates running this year is that we represent the full diversity of Delaware,” McBride said. “All of us feel a deep sense of urgency about the issues we face.”
Outside the school, Liam Fleetwood nervously thought about what would come of the day. He wants “the best person for the country, long-term,” he said.
Watching Democratic leaders in bigger cities and blue states, he hasn’t been impressed.
“How are we going to make it through COVID?” he asked. “People need to get back to work.”
Similarly to North Star, the line of hundreds of voters at The John Dickinson School in Marshallton was snaking around the athletic fields after 5:30 p.m., when the estimated wait time was around an hour and a half.
A voter at Dickinson said it usually takes 15 minutes at that location.
There were no issues with lines at Downes Elementary School in Newark at 5:45 p.m. with five active polling booths. A poll worker said there has been a steady flow of people, but the polling place has avoided large back-ups.
Downstate, there were short lines of under ten people at the Gumboro Fire Hall, Dagsboro Fire Hall and Indian River High School in Dagsboro between 5 and 6 p.m.
— Patricia Talorico, Natalia Alamdari, Jeanne Kuang, Brandon Holveck, Shannon Marvel McNaught, Jeff Neiburg
Speaking to reporters outside The Warehouse in Wilmington, Biden reflected on his time in the city and how it shaped him. He noted it’s a good luck charm to visit the places he grew up, having come from his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, earlier Tuesday.
Biden said his team has been tracking "overwhelming turnout" across the country, particularly among young people and women.
"The things that are happening bode well for the base that has been supporting me but we'll see," Biden said.
Biden expects a swift victory if early results indicate he's won Florida. Otherwise, the result could be uncertain late into the evening or even the next few days as slower reporting is expected in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The campaign said he plans to watch election results from his home.
— Meredith Newman, Brandon Holveck
The Delaware elections commissioner said Tuesday afternoon more than 225,000 voters have hit the polls in Delaware as of 3:45 p.m. That's in addition to the roughly 162,000 early votes cast.
About 440,000 total votes were cast in Delaware in the 2016 presidential election in Delaware. The polls close at 8 p.m.
If you requested an absentee or mail ballot but have not returned it, do not try to mail it now. Ballots can be submitted at designated boxes in Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown, depending on the county in which you are registered.
Ballots must be received before the 8 p.m. deadline to count. If you are in line to vote before 8 p.m., you should be allowed to vote. More information on voting can be found here.
— Brandon Holveck, Xerxes Wilson
Around 2:30 p.m., the wait time for voting was so short at W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover that one woman was in and out in about 4 minutes.
Sporting sunglasses, a black jacket and a Navy baseball cap, voter William Slade stood outside the school and couldn't resist showing off his T-shirt to fellow voters, which read: "I Am Black History."
Slade said he's a 10-year Navy veteran who voted for Biden, because he's a more trustworthy candidate.
"I don't like a lunatic and a liar," Slade said about Trump. "I don't understand how American women have voted for him. He said, 'I can grab your p***y, because I'm rich.' But [yet] they got Bill Cosby locked up?"
Ethan Harvey, 18, voted for the first time at Star Hill Elementary near Camden.
Like many of the polling places around Dover, the school was quiet. Harvey said he was surprised by how quick and easy the process was.
"My views have definitely changed a lot over the past few years leading up to me voting," he said. "And then a lot has happened obviously in the past year itself. So, it took a lot of thought, but I think I made the right choice for it."
At Fred Fifer Middle School in Camden, people were starting to come in after their work day, but lines remained short and quick.
Ginger Bynum-Christensen finished voting just after 3:30 p.m. and said the timing worked out great. Her husband came in the morning and told her there were probably 150 people ahead of him.
She said there was no specific issue driving her vote, but she wanted "to make a change in the world with my vote."
Another voter, Dov Fried had one specific reason for voting.
"I want to save America," he said. "I think President Trump is the best. I think he is going to save the country."
The lines didn't shorten everywhere. At Zoar Methodist Church outside Georgetown more than 200 people waited to vote at 3:15 p.m.
— Andre Lamar, Emily Lytle, Shannon Marvel McNaught
If you vote at Tatnall School, you need to get to Barley Mill Road via Centerville Road. Barley Mill Road at Centre Road has a large sign that reads "Police Activity Ahead." Biden lives off Barley Mill Road and it appears that section of the roadway is closed.
Biden spoke with supporters in Philadelphia moments ago, the final stop on his barnstorming tour of Pennsylvania. He will now head to Wilmington, where he will watch the results roll in.
"People are turning out at home," Biden said as he prepared to leave Philadelphia. "As much as I love Pennsylvania and I'm a Pennsylvania guy, I love Delaware. I gotta go home."
— Patrica Talorico, Brandon Holveck
Responding to questions from reporters at his weekly press briefing, Gov. John Carney said turnout on Tuesday was "unlike anything he'd ever seen" as he traversed the First State speaking with voters.
Carney said 80,000 Delawareans voted before 10 a.m., a striking number, he said, considering more than 160,000 voted by absentee or mail before Tuesday.
"I would say that it is going to break all of the records and that’s a good thing for Delaware."
Carney started his day at Cape Henlopen High School, where lines snaked around the building to the athletic fields. He said he saw similar crowds at the Cheswold Fire Company and Middletown High School. The line at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School near Bear was "incredibly long," Carney said.
— Brandon Holveck
1:30 p.m. 29-year-old first-time voter casts ballot in Talleyville
Tatyana Mozol, who waited in a roughly 40-minute line at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Talleyville, said at 29, she's never voted before. This was her first time.
"I used to think it really didn't matter, and my vote wouldn't do much, but my husband is really into politics," Mozol said. "He showed me that I should, and it matters, especially because a lot of things are changing recently."
She said she expected the wait to vote — her husband had voted Tuesday morning and said the line was even longer then. But neither of them minded the line.
"At this point, I think every vote counts."
Those waiting to cast their ballots at the church were of all ages and races, and though many were in line by themselves, they chatted with the voter ahead of behind them. Parents brought their children, too, who, although too young to vote, relished the experience.
"I'm really, really excited to be here," said 6-year-old William Schloss, who accompanied his mom, Johanna. "I wanna vote when I'm older."
Smiling, Johanna nodded approvingly.
"I definitely brought him on purpose, because I wanted him to see that it's important for us to vote," Johanna Schloss said. "That men and women have a voice."
Johanna Schloss said though she's been voting for years, in this election, it was "incredibly important to get out and vote."
— Isabel Hughes
12:30 p.m. Gubernatorial candidates speak with voters
Gov. John Carney and Republican nominee Julianne Murray made appearances at the polls Tuesday morning. Carney spoke with voters, offering elbow and fist bumps in lieu of handshakes, at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes before arriving at the Elsmere Fire Hall.
Murray cast her vote at Seaford High School around 9:30 a.m. with her husband Patrick Murray. Both sported American flag T-shirts under their jackets.
"I'm the worse half of the next governor of Delaware," Patrick Murray joked.
— Shannon Marvel McNaught, Brandon Holveck
11:55 a.m. First-time and long-time voters cast ballots in Dover
Cars streamed into a packed parking lot at the Dover Elks Lodge.
The line stretched along the building and had been steady since 7 a.m., but voters said they were "surprised" and "delighted" to discover how quickly the line was moving.
Voters Paula Gannon and Delores Bishop said it only took 5 minutes to get near the front of the line.
Gannon said she believes people woke up motivated to vote.
"I just wanted to get the ball rolling," she said.
A first-time voter in Delaware, Calvin Jeffrey said he didn’t know what to expect. He is originally from the Bronx.
"I thought this was the norm,” he said. "I’ve never seen a line this long in my life."
Patty Carney came to the polls with multiple members of her family, and she said she did notice one difference from voting here her whole life.
"It’s the first time I can remember having a police officer in the parking lot," she said. "I’m glad they’re here in case anyone wants to start anything."
Other voters said they wanted to come out today to make sure their vote was counted, or because they simply want a say in the state and national leaders.
— Emily Lytle
10:50 a.m. Early lines in Sussex County
Dozens of people waited in longer-than-usual lines at polling places across Sussex County Tuesday morning.
Around 100 people were in line to vote at North Laurel Early Learning Center at 10:50 a.m. There, Laurel resident Lance Wheatley said he "proudly" cast a vote for Trump and the Republican ticket.
"The policies are right," he said.
Earlier in the morning, there were lines at Seaford Middle School, Seaford High School, the Laurel Middle School/High School campus and the Rehoboth Firehouse, among other polling places.
At Greenwood Fire Hall, a line curved down the side of the building. People in line did not seem to be maintaining 6 feet of distance until they got inside where there were markers on the floor.
Inside, one Trump supporter was asked to turn his Trump shirt inside out, which he did willingly.
— Shannon Marvel McNaught, Andrew Sharp, Brandon Holveck
10:10 a.m. Glasgow voter shares excitement, anxiousness
Cool temperatures and a long line outside Glasgow High School wasn’t going to deter Yvonne George from voting Tuesday morning.
The Newark-area resident said she wanted change.
"Oh I am excited. I am also anxious," George said after voting. "And I hope we have some change today. We need change."
George said she voted for Biden because she is sick and tired "of what’s been going on in this country for the last four years."
She added that the nation is too divided and there needs to be change to bring the country back together.
Elsewhere in the Newark area, long lines were reported at McVey Elementary School in the early morning.
About a 25-minute drive north, there was no line at the Hockessin PAL Center shortly before 10 a.m., but a steady stream of cars pulled in and out of the parking lot. A line formed outside around Thomas McKean High School, which is less than 5 miles from Biden's home.
— Esteban Parra, Kevin Tresolini, Patricia Talorico
10 a.m. Cool temperatures and long lines in Wilmington
When Wilmington's Alison Ruggiano woke up and logged onto social media Tuesday morning to find photos of her friends waiting in long lines to vote, she didn't pull the covers over her head as a cold wind blew outside.
Instead, the school teacher bundled up, strapped on her blue mask and headed to Lincoln Towers, her polling place located behind Trolley Square Shopping Center.
She took her place behind about 70 others in a line that stretched from North Dupont Street around to Gilpin Avenue, going past Conaty Park and to the entrance of Brandywine Park.
People stood silently as strong wind gusts made it feel even colder than the 47-degree temperature.
With voters in front of the line reporting a nearly hourlong wait, Ruggiano wasn't deterred.
A supporter of Biden, she says she was energized by both the high early turnout across the country and the memory of the sting of Hillary Clinton's surprise loss four years ago.
"The more I doom scroll Twitter, the more I wonder about what's going to happen so I wanted to get out here," she said.
Further ahead in line near the entrance was Wilmington's Felicia Harrington with her hands tucked inside her coat, clutching a bottle of hot tea. She had been waiting for an hour.
"I did not expect a line this long," the Biden supporter said before pulling out her bare hands. "I wish I brought gloves instead of tea to keep my hands warm. But I'm really excited to see people coming out to vote given the importance of this election."
Waits of around 45 minutes to an hour were reported at several polling stations in the city.
"I would have waited three hours in the rain to get Trump out of office," said Ed Rogers as he left P.S. duPont Middle School, where more than 300 people were lined up waiting to vote.
He lined up shortly before the polls opened at 7 a.m. and waited about two hours to cast his ballot.
"It is one of the most important elections and I love the atmosphere out here," he said.
Some people played music on their phones, some called for their family members to bring them breakfast and some held others' place in line so they could go fetch chairs for the wait.
A poll worker at the location said the long line was partially down to precautions over COVID-19 and partially due to two of the polling place's six machines being down.
Traditionally, polls are always busiest in the mornings and evenings as people try to get their ballots cast either before or after work.
There was a similar, if shorter, line outside Harlan Elementary School less than a block away. Richard King said he waited one hour and 45 minutes, but added that is better than four more years of Trump.
"It is important for our rights and our future," he said leaving the polling place.
At Bancroft School, music blasted from speakers outside, keeping voters in high spirits while they waited. Dotting the road, campaigners handed out flyers, trying to win over voters up to the last minute.
"We’ve got to get him out," voter Beverley Thomas she said of the president, after submitting her ballot.
James Gibbs has always voted in person, and wanted to do so again this year. Waiting in line offered a chance to mingle and discuss issues with other voters, he said.
"We all have similar struggles," he said. "Everyone is suffering, except the rich."
Gibbs votes “to make a difference,” he said. He hopes his vote will send certain politicians out of office.
"We’ve got to vote some people in that are going to help," he said. "They’ve got to do their job. They work for us."
— Ryan Cormier, Xerxes Wilson, Natalia Alamdari
9 a.m. Smyrna voters prioritize COVID-19
As the polls opened in Smyrna and Clayton, voters faced lines ranging from about 35 to 45 people at Smyrna Middle School and the Levin Center, to more than 120 waiting outside the Clayton Firehouse.
At the firehouse, a few minutes before 7 a.m., before the polls opened, the line was nearly two blocks long, stretching from the fire hall entrance on East Street to Railroad Avenue, past the post office to Main Street, with some people along Main Street. After the doors opened, the line shrank a bit and by 7:45 a.m., it was only on East Street and Railroad Avenue, not quite to Main Street anymore.
At Smyrna Middle School on Duck Creek Parkway at 7:20 a.m., there were 37 people waiting in line outside the school, but by 7:25 a.m., the number had grown to 47.
At the Levin Center on Main Street in downtown Smyrna, the line stretched nearly a block to near Commerce Street with 46 people waiting outside at 7:35 a.m.
Voter Ralph Murray, 51, of Smyrna, said the top issue for him was "the handling of the coronavirus" which led to other problems.
"The economy for small businesses, the little man who’s suffering, businesses are closing and there’s no relief in sight," Murray said. "It’s important for someone to take action. There’s no time for all the fighting and arguing, just get it done."
Serena Alexander, 23, of Smyrna, said the top issue for her in the election is "definitely COVID."
"We need some type of health plan in place to deal with it," she said.
Casting her ballot the Clayton Firehouse, Alexander said she had never seen a line as long to vote before.
Scott Bradley, 65, of Clayton, said the lack of a plan for dealing with the coronavirus was the number one issue.
“Do something, anything. Don’t deny it," Bradley said.
— Ben Mace
7:45 a.m. Large early turnout in Wilmington
More than 100 people were in line at Harlan Elementary School before polls opened at 7 a.m. Long lines at Stubbs Elementary School surprised some voters, who said voting there is usually quick.
Waiting in line with her grandson, PierAngeli Bronson said the long lines are thrilling to see and reminiscent of when Barack Obama ran. She said if she didn't vote, "my ancestors would haunt me."
Another takeaway? It was cold. With winds near 20 mph, the real feel temperature was around 40 Tuesday morning in Wilmington. People in line joked about lighting fires to warm up and several neighbors thanked others for coming out.
— Jeanne Kuang, Brandon Holveck
7:30 a.m. Biden to address the nation from Wilmington
Joe Biden will spend election night in his hometown of Wilmington, where he will address the country, his campaign confirmed Saturday.
In the past few days, crews have been setting up a stage with large digital screens in front of the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington. It's the same location where the longtime Delawarean formally accepted the nomination in August.
Biden will be joined by wife Jill and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.
— Meredith Newman
7 a.m. Polls open throughout Delaware
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Those who applied for an absentee ballot or a mail ballot but have not returned it should not mail it today. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. to count. Absentee or mail ballots can be submitted at designated boxes in Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown, depending on the county in which you are registered.
Those who applied for an absentee ballot or a mail ballot may also still vote in person.
According to the Department of Elections, "When you arrive at your polling place, an election officer (poll worker) will confirm via the pollbook that your Vote By Mail (VBM) ballot has not been returned to the Department. Your unreturned VBM ballot will be voided, and you will be allowed to vote in person at the polling place."
Absentee and mail ballots cannot be submitted in person at polling stations.
As of Monday, about 160,000 people in the First State had cast early ballots, which is about seven times the total absentee ballots cast for the 2016 presidential election.
Delaware does not share a breakdown of the early ballots by party. In battleground states that provide breakdowns, ballots cast by Democrats have outnumbered those by Republicans roughly 3-1.
— Brandon Holveck